ECN306 Economics of Sustainability

Credits (ECTS):5

Course responsible:Arild Einar Bjørn Angelsen

Campus / Online:Taught campus Ås

Teaching language:Engelsk

Course frequency:Annually

Nominal workload:125 hours

Teaching and exam period:This course has teaching/evaluation in Autumn parallel. The first part is lectures and some group work. The last part is group work and presentations.

About this course

The course consists of two parts. First, it provides an introduction to key concepts, theories and conceptual frameworks on the economics of sustainability. Topics include: definitions and operationalization of sustainability (environmental, social, economic), 'doughnut economics' and 'limits to growth'/planetary boundaries, policy instruments (green taxes, cap-and-trade, green nudging, etc.); valuation and risk; and political economy. Second, students will apply these to a case (problem or policy related to sustainability), using a modified case study format: defining the problem, identifying main stakeholders, outlining and assessing options (solutions), and strategy for implementation. Examples of case topics include Norwegian policy issues (e.g., subsidies of electric vehicles, rush-hour taxes, petroleum licenses, technology development), or international issues (e.g., carbon trading, supply chains).

Learning outcome

Upon completion of the course, the students will:

  • Have an understanding of economic concepts and theories relevant to sustainability;
  • Be able to apply these to specific problems or policy measures;
  • Have developed skills in independently collecting relevant information and data and conducting research; and
  • Have improved their skills in group work and presentation of their own work.
  • The first part is will be in the form of lectures, student presentations and group discussions. The second part will be group work. The groups will do independent search and compilation of information on the chosen topic, prepare a presentation and write the final report.
  • Each group will be assigned a faculty member as a mentor for their case study.
  • Basic knowledge of economics, including intermediate microeconomics and preferably also basic environmental and resource economics.
  • Combined assessment, consisting of (i) portfolio being carried out during the teaching period, and (ii) a multiple choice exam during the teaching period. The portfolio consists of a group assignment and an oral presentation of it. All parts of a combined assessment must be passed in the same semester to pass the course.

    A retake exam is not organized in this course. Those who do not pass need to retake the whole course.

  • External examiner will control the quality of syllabus and criteria for the examination.
  • Mandatory participation in first class (lecture), and in 2/3 of the classes (which are held once per week). Mandatory participation in the group work, and in the class presentation of the group's report. Mandatory activities are valid only in the semester the course is being taken.
  • The course is in English. Incoming students can contact student advisors at the School of Economics and Business ( for admission to the course.
  • Three hours per week for lectures (part 1) and group work (part 2). One full day for presentation of cases at the end of the course.
  • The course is open for all master students including from outside the School of Economics and Business and exchange students at NMBU.
  • Minimum requirements for entrance to higher education in Norway (generell studiekompetanse).